Horses and Sand Carts on the Banks of the Seine by Lowes Dalbiac Luard (1872-1944) reflects a fascination with horses and hard work apparent in the British artist’s extensive catalogue.
The picture is offered as part of Life is Movement, an exhibition devoted to Luard, which runs at Harry Moore-Gwyn’s gallery in St James’s from May 26-June 15.
Although not exclusively an equestrian artist, Luard was “an exceptional painter of horses”, Moore-Gwyn says.
Born in Calcutta to a colonel in the Royal Engineers, Luard gave up a place to study mathematics at Oxford to pursue art, enrolling at the Slade in 1892. He moved to France in 1905 and lived there into the 1930s.
Working animals especially star in his pictures. Earlier compositions, such as Horses and Sand Carts…, depict the Percherons breed that powered the re-modelling of Paris in the early 19th century. Later, he captured scenes of horses in the First World War hauling guns and, back in England in the 1930s, racing or performing at the circus.
His book The Horse: Its Action & Anatomy by an Artist was well-received and enduring. “He was doing what Stubbs had done two centuries before”, Moore-Gwyn says, referring to the 1766 treatise The Anatomy of the Horse by George Stubbs, arguably the greatest British sporting artist.
In a sense, Luard was also “a beautiful ‘old-fashioned’ painter”, adds Moore-Gwyn. “He could use oil painting and draw properly. He had that Slade training which counts for quite a lot in the end.”
Like many artists of his generation, Luard was influenced by photography, comparing images taken of moving creatures in musical terms as “a detached chord”. Pictures such as Under Starter’s Orders, executed after his return to England in the 1930s, show how he used figurative studies to capture energetic movement.
Equestrian art is enduringly popular in the UK, but despite the breadth of his output, Luard has had relatively little attention since his death. He has been the subject of only a few shows. Auction records are similarly scattered, with results mostly in the hundreds of pounds. This exhibition, which includes some major works by the artist, is likely to set a benchmark for prices.
When Moore-Gwyn was approached by the artist’s family to stage the show, he had his pick of the studio as well as works left with the family.
“I’m not typically a dealer in equine paintings. It’s a new thing for me”, he says. “It’s a whole market in itself. But Luard is more than that.
He’s a very naturally beautiful painter in other subjects such as landscapes.”
Several of these are on offer, as are scenes of men working, trapeze artists and even a study of white ducks.
The resulting collection comprises more than 61 works including paintings, prints and drawings which span his career.
It is the largest show yet to take place at Moore-Gwyn’s gallery in Mason’s Yard since he moved in last November.
Lucy Kemp-Welch show
Known for her paintings of service horses during the First World War and her illustrations for Black Beauty, equestrian artist Lucy Kemp-Welch (1869- 1958) is the focus of an exhibition at the National Horseracing Museum in Newmarket, organised with Blondes Fine Art of Ware.
Kemp-Welch was a near contemporary to Luard (see main story) and the better known of the two, with her prices on the open market stretching into the five figures.
The exhibition Her Private World features a private album of drawings never seen in public before. It runs until May 7.
As well as helping with the show, Blondes has several works by Kemp-Welch on offer, such as The Watering Place, 1979 (above) which is available for £5000 + ARR.